"And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also."


"I don't pretend to understand the universe it's much bigger than I am. "

"My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind."


"Today, Is The Day!"

Ruth Bernhardt - Photographer - 1905-2006


"At fifty nine years of age, I have a new mystery. An infinitely large and infinitely deep, mystery. One which totally confounds me. Why, does this Great Spirit, the One who created all I see with my new toy, why, does this Spirit need me? Me, of all people? Why?

"Let us all remember to enjoy our toys and the beauty above and within, each of us ..."

"I, want to live, some where, so that when I walk from my car to the front door of an office, it is not necessarily a life threatening experience. The human body was never designed to endure -20 fahrenheit."

Jon ...


Pier Location/Offset Calcs
Pier Height Calcs

Painting The Dome Inside

The Base Column
The Upper Column
The Upper Column - Part II
The Upper Column - Fini
The Upper Column - PostScript
The Upper Column - Installation

The Base Platform
The Base Platform - Part II
The Base Platform - Part III

Wheels For Dome Rotation
The Rings
The Rings - Part II
The Rings - Part III
The Rings - Part IV
The Rings - Fini

The Wall Panels
The Wall Panels - Part II
The Wall Panels - Part III
The Wall Panels - Part IV
The Wall Panels - Fini

The Doorway
The Door

The Domer
The Domer - Nail It Down
The Domer - The Secret Trap Door
The Domer - Ready For The Beast

The Domer - Tips

The Plans
The Bill

Alternate Telrad Mounting
Making The LX200GPS To An LX200R
Drive Training
AutoStar Warmer


Sunday February 3rd - SuperBowl Sunday

Ten years ago, on SuperBowl Sunday, Marcia and I walked into a cool, empty house, which two Fridays later, would become our new home. We made an offer Monday night, which was accepted a week later, and we moved in that Friday.

We have certainly enjoyed living here.


Well, to more serious matters. Here is a link to The Door which is ready for stain and The Plans, which a few have asked of.

And, The Bill has also been updated.

Btw, The Domer finally ended up -here-. A couple trees had to go, but, it is the best compromise for the yard I have.



Tuesday January 8th, 2008

I have not posted for a while. But, here are just a few Snapshots of The Beast, inside, ready to go! The next night, it saw First Light inside its new home! Then, from Wednesday Dec 12th, til tonight, every night was cloudy! Arrrrrrgh!


Tuesday December 11th

Had time to put a wrap on screwing the Domer to the Deck and also to make the Secret Trap Door so I do not break my ankle in 27 places.

The Links: The Domer and the TrapDoor


Saturday December 8th - All Day Too

Time to fish or cut bait.

Got up at 7:00, blew a path to the backyard so Marcia and I could get the rings back there. Then, cleared away a few things and swept off the deck itself. I was out there most of the day and the weather was 5-10 degrees. Luckily, no wind.

I had a major problem and had to trim the width of each panel, but, after 10:00pm, I was a happy guy.

Here, is a Link to the installation of the Upper Column. And another for The Domer.


Saturday Dec 1st, Sunday, Monday

I made the panels that adjoin the Door Frame and, Marcia and I painted all of them in the basement.

It feels so good knowing, the next step is to assemble them on the Deck, place the Upper Column in place, mount the Lower Ring, the other Rings and, set the Domer on top.

Here is the Link.


Sunday November 25th

Yesterday and today, I finished a small detail of the Upper Column. Then, proceeded to finish the Panels and started the Doorway.

Links can be found here, here, here and here.

One must have alot of patience for this project. I knew it would be work, but not quite this much.

But, I am getting really close now.

And, it will be so very good to be inside, out of the breeze and cold.


Friday November 23rd

Spent the evening getting the Upper Column finished. No matter how easy the cuts, how simple the design, The Asylum will be truly, a place of respite when the construction is done.

Btw, the folks at Inspections for the City of Woodbury are to be commended. They are great to work with and have made this project easy. Thanks Guys!

Here, is a Link to the final phase of making the Upper Column

Tomorrow, finish the Panels and get the Primer slapped on them.


Friday / Saturday November 16th - 17th

Time to get the deck all done before the snow/slush hit. So, I got busy, left an hour early from work and ripped right into it.

Before I could do that, I had to finish the Upper Column and drill the holes for the carriage bolts. (The joist will get in the way, so I had to do this before them.)

Here is a Link to the Upper Column and another Link for the finishing the Deck.


Veterans Day November 12th

After supper I worked on the first layer of the Upper Column and nine of the twelve wall panels.

Here is the Link for the Upper Column and the Link for the Wall Panels.


Sunday November 11th

A busy day and it was really wonderful weather as well. My thermometer showed 60 degrees. Sure made working easy.

Well, I finalized the height of the telescope which then dictates the height of the column and the wall height. Here is a Link to how I did the math.

From that, I ripped up the top column pieces but will cover them in another installment.

Then, I did all the pieces for the wall panels. Twelve total, but I will build nine this first batch and then, ten and eleven will frame in the door and number twelve will be the door. Here is a Link as to how this process started out.

And, in case you wanted to know, a Telrad is a nifty device used to make locating stars etc easier. The base is held on with two strips of double sided foam tape that, once applied, has to be ruined to get it off.

Here is an alternate way of mounting the base with Gaffer Tape.


Saturday November 10th

Well, after playing with these beasties and thinking of some of the minor issues I have, I made the groove deeper, added a smaller, shallow groove so the wheels track better and, wrapped it. I also decreased the stack from 5 3/4" to 5 3/8". A good thing.

Here is the Link to the final part of The Rings.


Saturday November 3rd

Hoping to get the rings prepped today and the wheels in place. Cool, but nice fall day. I cannot wait to see if all my planning and workmanship will indeed work out okay.

Here is the Link to Part IV of The Rings.


Tuesday October 30th

The weather is closing in fast so I took the day off work and and glued up all three rings. Fetched the 1/4" ply right off, swallowed (5) Alleve, and got to work. This was a busy day indeed.

Here is the Link to Part III of The Rings.


Tuesday October 30th

I set up The Beast and tuned into the new Comet that is whizzing out of the Solar System. The surprising part of this Comet, it has gotten immensely brighter in a matter of 2-3 days.

Here is a link to what you can see without any equipment.




It is really fun to have the equipment to see these things for yourself.


Saturday/Sunday October 21st/22nd

I worked on the rings for a bit, and, made the decision to dig another hole for the column. And, once again, I had Saturday with wonderful weather forecasted, and rain expected for Sunday.

Of all the chores in this life, I hate the most, without question nor reservation, is, doing anything in the dirt with a shovel.

I also concluded, there is a mystery about "Quainte Lil' Woodbury" and the contractor people who build houses.

First, scrape off all the black dirt and really nice undersoil and sell it.

Next, find fifteen to twenty farms and purchase their rock piles. Distribute such pile on the next homeowners lawn.

After the house is built, spread some sand and gravel on top of the rocks and plop sod on that and call it a "Manicured Lawn".

Digging in this stuff, is shear misery. One rock, after another.

Here is the Link to Part II of The Rings.

And, here is the Link for Part II of The Base.


Sunday October 14th

I rested and am planning how to react to what lay in the bottom of my hole for the Base Column.

Besides, the weather guy was correct. It is raining. A Good Baptist Soaker.

Stay Tuned.


Saturday October 13th

Ten day was beautiful and finally time to start the heavy lifting. The Dome will set on a twelve sides of walls which will set on a standard deck platform.

Here is the Link to how I started the Deck Platform.


Friday October 12th

Since I had the materials, I left work a bit early and decided to start the rings. I have done a massive amount of calculations and planning, and now it is time to fish, not cut bait.

Here is the Link to how I made the Rings.


Sunday October 7th

Every telescope needs to set on top of something. Some folk use a steel column, others cement. My contrary nature dictated wood. Two pieces. One that goes into the ground and one that telescopes from the inside of that into The Asylum.

The base being treated wood and the top column being a hardwood plywood with alotta layers for strength. Here is the link for how I made the Base.


Saturday September 28th

I primed the inside of the Domer, finally. Where I work, we had a massive software conversion and, it alot of my time, and quite a few others. It has been a while since I pulled an All Nighter at work. I am simply too old for that any longer. Amen.

And, I had to rearrange the garage one more time. But here is a link for the entire process.


Saturday September 21st

This past week, I got the new OTA (Optical Tube Assembly) for The Beast. When I bought this one last December, the optics were one generation old. The newer ones are reputed to be better. I eMailed a couple of folks, and they thought so too. So I did The Math, sold the idea to the Domestic Authority, and here it is.

I started the conversion about nine this evening, and found out fast, I had to do a bit more work than I thought. And after taking the left side completely apart, I succeeded in getting the new one in its place.

About midnight, I brought it outside and set it up and let it cool down. A couple hours later, the views were indeed what I wanted them to be. Fainter stars were appearing. Stars at the edge of the eyepiece were tack sharp and not pear shaped any longer. At 4:00am, the Great Nebula in Orion was magnificent. Because the contrast is better, and, fainter things are in focus, it makes sense more detail will be seen.

Now, to sell the old one and the other things that came with the new one so the DA is happy.

And here is a link for how I did the swap.


Monday September 3rd

Pier Location Calc's

Summer's get too bizzey for Big Dog. But, I have the plans for my Asylum pretty much laid out. At least in my head. Trust me, they are simple. And easy.

I waited to start this whole thing based on where the vertical center of the scope axis would be to the vertical center of the Asylum to the offset necessary to the column.

And here is a link for how I did the calculations.

My Version of Wheels

I am going to make my own rings that will support the dome and allow for rotation.

And here is a link for what I found might work.


Tuesday August 14th

It came! My wedge finally, after seven+ months of waiting, it came!

This weighs forty pounds. The base is 3/4" aluminum. And it is very well made.

Ordered early in January, and after repeated promises "3 Weeks ... ", I resigned myself this saga would have a life of its very own.

It certainly did ...

In January I got excited as I was told it would ship in two to three weeks.

In February I got excited as I was told it would ship in two to three weeks.

In March I got excited as I was told it would ship in two to three weeks.

In April I got excited as I was told it would ship in two to three weeks.

In May, I got a bit excited as some of the parts were finished and assembly would begin.

In June, I got a bit more excited as some of the parts were finished and assembly would begin.

In July, I got really excited as some of the parts were finished and assembly would begin.

In late July, I was told it was ready to ship ...

Three weeks later, it did. And when it got to the FedEx hub in St Paul, the label was missing and they returned it to Tennessee. And here it is, after the second attempt to ship it here.

The quality is very good. The design excellent.

The company's ability to predict ship dates, keep the customer informed and to apply a shipping label, well, all this could have been done better. They need to remember who the customer truly is. Of course, in the humblest of my opinion ...

So, I filled my glass with the Gentlemen's Drink of the South, And took my sweet time, creating the second image.


Now, the Asylum can begin! . . . :-O


Marcia and I went to the Minn Astrology Society's field in the northern part of Minnesota last Saturday night. Near McGregor, due west of Duluth. Left at 6:30, got there at 9:30, left at 2:30 and home at 4:30. At night of course. Duuh ...

The skies were clear, just a bit humid. I had not seen the Milky Way since Bolivia, 2002. It was beautiful. It was so much fun to see the eyepiece light up with hundreds of stars, not just a few. I did enjoy it so ...

Stay Tuned ...

. . Jon ...

ps: The object of a "Wedge" is to set on top of the tripod, or a column, and hold the telescope on its base at an angle, with its axis pointing to the Celestrial North Pole. Hence, all the stars will rotate about the scope and only a sweeping motion east to west will be necessary to track the stars.

Alignment is critical. The better a wedge is made, the easier it is to use.


Sunday July 1st

Just a brief update ...

The AstroAsylum is still dormant. I am waiting for the wedge and then, it will go up fast. I tire of lugging a 50# tripod 125' to the back yard and also The Beast almost as far just to watch the clouds roll in. I have determined the best location is not by the pool as previously thought, but in the corner of the back yard. This way, I can see "The Ecliptic" where all the planets and fun things reside as they wander about the heavens.

I have done some fun things however.

First off, The Beast is working quite well. Its computer and database of stars and things, once the scope is aligned properly, the "GoTo" 's are spot on. The equipment has not changed, I am simply more able to blend its quirks, with mine. With its Quirks, usually winning in the end.

The other night I was watching Jupiter, and only three of its Diamand-like moons were showing. I stood there for a bit and there, right on the left edge of that giant planet, came the fourth one. Just peeking around the edge. I ran and got Marcia and she too enjoyed watching the little guy poke itself around the edge of the planet.

Last night, June 30th was a conjunction of Venus and Saturn. Saturn being about a half degree right above Venus. Marcia, her 85 year old mother Nelly and my neighbor Mark saw both planets in one eyepiece. In mama's 85 years, she has never seen a planet thru an eyepiece. She also saw Jupiter and the moons which she stated looked like a "diamond necklace about it".

Btw, it is still "Three Weeks" til delivery of the wedge :-(


Thursday May 31st

Yesterday, I came to the conclusion, weather patterns, in Minnesota, create crappy weather.

- 6 Months of the year? Just too cold
- The really nice weather, what ever that is, can be had from June 15th thru about Sept 25th. The rest is cold.
- One simply can not rely on anything the weather folks say. Nothing. Wished I could find a good paying job like that.
- And, just when you have a really nice morning, day, evening or night, the State Bird, the Mosquito, shows up.

And, we persevere ...

Still waiting for one more item, a wedge, and then construction will begin. I ordered it in January and have been told 'Three weeks' since then.

And, we persevere ...


Wednesday May 16th

The sky was clear and still tonight. Last winter, one night, Saturn and the moon were just fantastic. The atmospheric "seeing" was very good indeed. Tonight, was one more evening just like that first one. Everything was simply beautiful. Especially, the larger Star Clusters.

I am waiting for an accessory and then I will start the AstroAsylum.

And, even in the light pollution of a suburb, there was alot of things to see.


Friday April 20th

I joined the Minnesota Astronomical Society last winter, and last night, I went to a "Star Party". More of a night of watching the Heavens. Seven others showed up at a site just east of the metro, all of varying skills and equipment. A really nice bunch of open, curious folk.

The skies were a bit misty/foggy and "Seeing" was not what it might have been. But we all enjoyed looking thru each other's equipment. Making the best of what was available to us. I have not stood for three+ hours outdoors, for a long time. "Collapsing On The Couch" took on a new meaning when I got home.

A fun evening.


I have had two experiences this past winter I will share.

The first, when at ten below zero, late at night, I saw Saturn for the first time. Incredible, is the only word to describe it. I hunched over for about twenty minutes, as I worshipped what has been, and is, 250,000,000 miles away. So bright and close in my viewfinder.

This made me feel "One with the Universe". A planet, we have seen in books and cartoons, something we have known of for our entire lives. And, there, it was, I felt a part of it all.

Another time, I was looking at some stars and I popped the power cord from its receptacle. Looked into the eyepiece, and the stars were moving.

I was surprised at how fast they moved across the field of view.

Then I realized, it is not they who are moving, it is I, who is moving.

That revelation, was one I was not prepared for. Knowing, the ground I stand upon, is rotating about the Earth's axis once every twenty four hours, and the equator rotating at one thousand mph, as we hurtle thru space at approx 93,200,000 miles distant from the sun, about our orbit at a rate of 66,800 mph thru space. As we rotate about the Milky Way Galaxy and it, hurtles thru space drifting away from other galaxies at millions of miles per hour.

The stars were not moving, I was . . .

An incredible feeling it was . . .


Saturday April 14th

Just some slight construction news. My nephew Chris called last night, a professional carpenter, and volunteered to help put my observatory together. I was flattered. Indeed, I will impress him into my army of one to share in the madness!

Last night, was the first clear, decent night in what seems weeks. Two weeks for sure. After a trip to a casino and their buffet, and a brief and small donation to the slots, Marcia and I came home and I got set up. My finderscope has a lighted reticle and the tiny batteries were shot. (I forgot to shut it off.) So, I crossed over to the Darke Side and tried WalMart. A store, and philosophy, I do not prefer. After being ushered to one corner and then the other, finally a third, of a gigantic store, their hearing aid battery department was atrociously miniscule.

Walgreens to the rescue! I quietly vowed once more, not to go into another WalMart as long as I live.

By the way, Marcia and I used to frequent a certain White Castle on late Friday or Saturday nights, mainly to watch the type of customer a restaurant of that caliber attracts at 1:00 in the morning. I think, these folk can now be found after ten o'clock at any WalMart on a Friday night. Interesting, these folk are. Yes, interesting.

Well, after my errand, I got set up and and Saturn was high in the sky. Three of its moons decorating it. And M13, oh my, what a number of stars! The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules. Here is a Wikipedia link. I left The Beast set up and covered with a blanket with the hopes of rising early enough to see Jupiter in the morning sky.

Well, 5:30, up I was and out I went. Just pointing a telescope at anything celestrial without any means of adjusting for Earth's rotation, means whatever is in your eyepiece, won't be there for long. It is not moving, you are! A sort of feeling that is 'strange'. So, I turned it on, and was surprised in the ever brightening sky, I got a two star alignment and told it to goto Jupiter.

There it was. Four moons, like tiny jewels in the sky, affixed to this beautiful planet. I can't claim to seeing the Great Red Spot, but I will consult one of many charts on that, and coordinate all at some future date.

Thrilling it is, it truly is. And, beautiful. Saturn and Jupiter.


Monday April 9th

Here it is! The Dome is here!

John delivered it promptly and without any effort. My, it looks a bit bigger than 8' around and 4' tall! When one of my neighbors saw it on the truck, I think, the possibility of changing his approval for my madness was heavy on his mind. But, I have great neighbors and the first time he sees Saturn, even on a cloudy night, he will be awfully excited.

And here is a link for more pix.

Big Dog with The Dome for The Beast


Easter Sunday

No blog today. Just, admiration for what Our Creator has given to us, and for us.


Saturday April 7th

Was awake most of the night, and started to sketch out construction details. 8' octagonal base. 7 panels plus a door. 3" posts between the panels with grooves to receive the edge of the panel. Same posts extend down to the base and are anchored there. Panels will extend past floor and cover the base as well. Two tone paint job to match the house. Electrical, 10BaseT, X10 dimmer so can turn things on and off from inside the house. X10 dimmers for whatever lighting is inside. Wooden hexagonal pier (who wants a square one?). All very portable,dis-assemble-able (?) so can sell or take it with to warmer climes.

Also spent part of the night re-training my drives on the LX200KGT. Got the RA part reliably a 26. The Dec part - I will get at those gears again and tighten them a bit. 44 is too big. See link for how I did that inside the house. Much warmer and can repeat the test over and over - reliably.


Friday April 6th

The ExploraDome is on order, will be delivered next week. I am patterning my design after this one found on the ExploraDome Website.

I like the Traditional Look and Feel this imparts.


Wednesday March 14th

My Birthday! My oldest son purchased a FeatherTouch MicroFocuser and Marcia sent for a 0.8 2" FeatherTouch (in transit).

When I got all installed and used them for the first time, what a wonderful difference over the original electric focuser.

Big Dog, showing off!



After watching me lug my 12" LX200KGT for the 'enth time, Marcia told me were I to drop it, the repair bill and freight would pay for the cost of an AstroAsylum. I hesitate to call it an observatory, as that implies some smart guy or gal inside knows what he is doing. I do not and I ain't particularly smart.

So, the lust for an ExploraDome was started. Eight feet in diameter is just right for me (now), and will not interfere with the suburban pleasure my neighbors get of looking at my property.

The quest is on ...


44.55.44 N
92.55.09 W

In my Quainte Suburban Neighborhood, in Quainte, Little Woodbury, this is the spot for the AstroAsylum. ps: No, this is not Kansas, Toto. Hemmed in by trees, I can still get "good" views past the Equatorial and to the North as well. West? Forget it. Two and a half million people live there. East? South? Trees. Tall trees.

Remember folks, Marcia and I have a Prime Directive. a)Warmer, lots warmer b)Palm trees c)Far, far away from Minnesota winters and Permafrost.

Yes, it rains in March in Minnesota ...



Just way too cold and miserable to stand outside and try and see the faint fuzzies.



Naglers, Panoptics, a JMI case, a viewfinder and then a better one, Peterson's stuff, ScopeStuff as well, accessories to hang a camera on the end, and the cr card is now at cruising altitude. This is a madness.


Dec 18th, '06

Just got word I have another contract and my wife gave permission for a telescope which will relieve the agony and angst I have (for one).

Went to the Meade dealer in town (Minneapolis/St Paul) and ended up with a floor model LX200GPS 12". Later, officially renamed to an LX200KGT (Kinda Gets There).

This, was the start of a burgeoning credit card balance ...

First Light was Tuesday evening. I saw a fuzzy Orion Nebula and gave up. The temp at 11:00pm was 12 below zero!

"The Beast" -

My first Telescope!!!!!


Thanks Marcia!!!!!!!


Stay Tuned ...